Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century once said, ''Racism is man's gravest threat to man- the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason. So you can imagine what I felt as a Kenyan, an African for that matter when I first heard of the news that a Chinese restaurant somewhere in Capital city of Nairobi could not allow African past certain hours, 5PM to be specific.
The reason for doing this according to the restaurant management is that Black Africans posed danger to the Chinese patrons who visit the restaurant. Only taxi drivers or Africans accompanied by Chinese, European or Indian patrons or some certain “loyal” African patrons are allowed into the compound.
This whole whole racism scandal has caused so much debate among Kenyans and it has now become the number one trending topic on twitter under the hashtag #RacistRestaurant.
At this day and age, why would people still be discriminated just because of their skin colour? As I was telling my friends from the office yesterday morning, we have come a long way back from the days of slavery, but it is so sad that in 2015 racism/ discrimination and inequality still saturate our society to levels that we cannot even understand. Where are our Chinese brothers in this case taking us? As Kenyan on twitter said, it's sad to discriminate at this day and age,it takes us back to precolonial times.
So who are these ''Loyal'' Africans that the Chinese restaurant only admits? and what does it takes for an African to be considered ''loyal''? According to the Daily Nation, for an African to be considered “loyal” and worthy of admission, they must spend Sh20,000 at the restaurant over a specified period, they said. But staff who spoke to the Nation said the restaurant is not a members’ club and with the exception of Mr Sonko and Mr Tuju, and that the “no Africans” policy is strictly enforced.
It has also been revealed the Chinese restaurant has been operating without a licence and that it also owes the tourism regulator Sh227,000 in arrears. That is according to the Tourism Regulatory Authority. Apparently, the Chinese Restaurant has not been paying the annual Sh45,000 since 2011. This only means it has been operating illegally and still goes ahead to lock Africans/Kenyans out.
As a country and in those little village primary schools we went to, our teachers made enormous progress in teaching everyone that racism is bad. That is what we grew up knowing and we still have that right at the back of our minds. But when I enter a Chinese restaurant and the first thing I am welcomed with is a strange look with a message "Masaa ya Waafrika yameisha,” (The time for Africans is over), how does that makes me feel as an African? sad.
American comedian, screenwriter, television and film producer, and actor Dave Chappelle said things like racism are institutionalized. You might not know any bigots. You feel like “well I don’t hate black people so I’m not a racist,” but you benefit from racism. Just by the merit, the color of your skin. The opportunities that you have, you’re privileged in ways that you might not even realize because you haven’t been deprived of certain things. We need to talk about these things in order for them to change.
We cannot do this alone; the Chinese, Americans, blacks and people from all other races have a role to play.
What has been happening at the Chinese restaurant together with all these other places which might not have been discovered yet can only be descried as disgusting and ancient.
Here is a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.
''I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.'''#KanaliSpeaks